Electric power may soon reach 2 remote Cebu isles

Electric power may soon reach 2 remote Cebu isles
File photo

STABLE electricity may finally come to households in the remote islands of Carnaza in Daanbantayan and Gibitngil in Medellin, Cebu.

This after the Department of Energy released the Invitation to Bid for the conduct of a Competitive Selection Process for Microgrid Service Provider (MGSP) for the electrification of an initial 98 unserved and underserved areas of the country.

In a statement released earlier this month, the agency said the 98 areas cover 15,645 households combined, or around 39 percent of the 40,310 total households in the unserved and underserved areas “that may be viable for microgrid systems due to their number, household density, and demand in the said areas.”

The 2023-2032 National Total Electrification Roadmap (NTER) indicates eight areas in northern Cebu among the 98 areas in the country unserved and underserved by electricity services that will be clustered into 49 lots targeted for tender for CSP by starting the publication of the Invitation to Bid and the Terms of Reference on Oct. 27, 2023.

These are seven areas in Carnaza (sitios Barrio Proper 1, Barrio Proper, Daanbarrio, Pantao, Candionesio, Liog-Liog and Linao) with a combined 800 households, and all sitios in Gibitngil with a combined 514 households.

These were categorized as unserved in the area covered by distribution utility Cebu II Electric Cooperative Inc. (Cebeco II).

The combined 1,314 households of Carnaza and Gibitngil would be combined into two lots for tender.

Cebeco II serves two cities and 11 municipalities in northern Cebu: the cities of Danao and Bogo, and the municipalities of Medellin, Daanbantayan, San Remigio, Tabogon, Borbon, Sogod, Tabuelan, Tuburan, Catmon, Carmen and Compostela.

90-day timeline

Republic Act 11646, or the Microgrid Systems Act of 2022, mandates the holding of a Competitive Selection Process (CSP) before an MGSP can serve off-grid areas, as well as a 90-day timeline to complete the CSP process from the pre-qualification until the submission to the Energy Regulatory Commission of the awarded contract.

The Invitation to Bid document indicates that the Invitation to Bid was published last Oct. 27, and the deadline for the submission of expression of interest was last Nov. 15.

The DOE said the bids will be opened on Dec. 27, 2023, and the Notice of Award will be issued on March 12, 2024.

The rest of the 90 areas targeted for the tender are unserved areas covered by the following distribution utilities: Camarines Norte Electric Cooperative Inc. (Canoreco), 15 areas, 1,038 households; Quezon II Electric Cooperative Inc. (Quezelco II), three areas, 1,401 households; and Palawan Electric Cooperative Inc. (Paleco), 21 areas, 5,773 households in Luzon; and Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative Inc. (Noceco), 42 areas, 2,589 households, in the Visayas.

Also included are the underserved areas of Paleco, one area, 393 households; and Masbate Electric Cooperative Inc. (Maselco), eight areas, 3,137 households, both in Luzon.

Under the NTER, generally the competitive selection process for microgrid service providers in these areas should prioritize using low-cost, indigenous, renewable and environment-friendly sources of energy.

Solar power

In the past, DOE teamed up with Cebeco II to provide electricity to households in Gibitngil using solar energy under the agency’s Solar Home System under the Rural Power Project between 2011 and 2013.

Gibitngil residents were barred from using TV sets, DVD players, refrigerators and flat irons to prolong the life of the solar system, which consists of solar panels and batteries. But residents violated this rule, and the high cost of replacing solar batteries turned the project into a failure.

Carnaza, on the other hand, is currently powered by small generator sets and costly solar panels bought by some residents to power their homes. As of last year, the island’s schools had been energized through a solar power system installed with European Union and German government funding.

Under the 2023-2032 NTER, an initial 407 far-flung areas in the country have been identified as unserved (285 areas comprising 20,103 households) and underserved (122 areas comprising 20,207 households) by electricity services.

The 285 unserved areas subject to CSP pursuant to RA 11646 are in the areas served by Cebeco II, Antique Electric Cooperative Inc., Capiz Electric Cooperative Inc., Noceco in the Visayas; Canoreco, Paleco and Quezelco II in Luzon; and Surigao del Sur I Electric Cooperative Inc. in Mindanao.

As for the 122 underserved areas covering 20,207 households, they are in areas served by Busuanga Electric Cooperative Inc., Quirino Electric Cooperative Inc., Zambales II Electric Cooperative Inc., Maselco and Paleco in Luzon; Biliran Electric Cooperative Inc. and Negros Oriental II Electric Cooperative Inc. in the Visayas; Dinagat Island Electric Cooperative Inc. in Mindanao; and the National Power Corp.

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